What does it take to get hired as a coding bootcamp graduate? In the last few years, thousands of people have attended code schools and searched for jobs afterwards. Some have fared better than others, with graduates of certain schools landing jobs at some of the most prestigious tech companies in the world. All code schools have a stake in their graduates successes, and the best schools have built processes around helping grads find career success.
Grace Hopper Academy, the only women’s coding bootcamp to offer deferred tuition, has a dedicated hiring team focused on helping graduates get jobs. Through two and a half years of successful placement of students in developer careers, the joint professional development team at Grace Hopper and Fullstack Academy (Grace Hopper’s partner school) have hiring down to a science. They know what employers are looking for, and they know how to best prepare students for a rewarding job search.
We sat down with the Grace Hopper Career Success Team and got their top recommendations for a successful search.
1. Have Something to Show for Yourself (like a portfolio)
In a recent 2015 Stack Overflow survey of developers, 48% of respondents did not have a computer science degree. In a field that relies less on formal education and more on what you’re able to create, having a portfolio of impressive applications and projects becomes even more important. These projects demonstrate to companies that you have the skills and knowledge they need.
Ideally your projects are deployed on the web, use technologies that companies are looking for, and have code that is shared publicly on a site like Github—bonus points if you can have a walkthrough video of your project like this. At Grace Hopper Academy, students build three fully-functional, polished, and impressive applications during the second half of the immersive program. These projects are great features on Linkedin profiles and get presented to prospective employers during the school’s Hiring Day.
2. Build Your Own Brand on Linkedin and Your Resume
You may have the requisite skills for job position out there, but that doesn’t help you unless you advertise them properly. Liz Livi, career development specialist at Grace Hopper and Fullstack Academy, says it’s often the small details that can make or break your resume. “Developers need to make their GitHub and Linkedin profiles readily accessible at the top of their resumes—some employers won’t take the time to dig any deeper.”
It’s also important to include all of the technologies you know within the skills section of your resume. If a larger company is screening resumes using keyword search software, you want to make sure you get picked up for what you know. Grace Hopper Students participate in many rounds of resume reviews and Linkedin profile-building workshops. “The small fixes in our workshops can be the most important,” Livi says. “You’d be surprised how many broken links I find.”
3. Know Your Stuff - Be (Over) Prepared for Technical Interviews
A good resume and portfolio of projects gets you in the door. Now you have to prove to an interview that you actually know how to think like a programmer. At the most basic level, that means being able to speak thoroughly about all of the projects on your resume. After that, you need to be well practiced at answering technical interview questions. This is a broad topic that requires a lot of practice to master. Grace Hopper Academy recommends the book “Cracking the Coding Interview” as a starting resource for the job search.
Grace Hopper students spend the first half of their program in intensive lectures with targeted workshops and assessments. The second half is focused on projects, but also a daily, hour-long exercise called REACTO, where students practice answering technical interview questions on whiteboards. Students learn to take a systematic approach to solving technical coding challenges. Grace Hopper Academy instructor Ayana Wilson describes REACTO as, “an exercise where students pair-off as interviewer and interviewee. By approaching challenges on their own, but especially from learning how to guide others, students are well-prepared to calmly and efficiently solve coding challenges.”
4. Attend Career Fairs and Networking Events
Applying for jobs online is a good way to reach potential employers, but it’s often useful to attend live events and connect with recruiters face-to-face. Attending career fairs is a great way to make yourself stand out when applying to open positions—it adds personality to mere resume points. If you’re attending a coding school, most programs have an event at the end of the course where companies come to meet the graduating students.
The Hiring Day Event at Grace Hopper marks the official beginning of every student’s job search. On this afternoon, representatives from 20-25 companies, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, watch final project demos and network with future developers.
The second-half of the afternoon continues with speed interview rounds. A few days before hiring day, Grace Hopper and Fullstack send resumes to hiring representatives and poll their developers on interests and professional desires. Using a unique algorithm that pairs student interests with company needs, each company meets with ten graduates for ten minutes each and see if there’s “a match.” Hiring companies then invite their top candidates to off-site interviews at a later date.
5. Leverage Your Network with LinkedIn
As a coding bootcamp graduate, you’ll likely have a larger career network than you realize. If you’re coming from a different career background, make sure you’re connected on LinkedIn with all your old coworkers, associates, and any college alumni you’ve kept in touch with. On top of that, if you’re attending a larger coding school with an alumni base, it’s perfectly fine to connect with other graduates of the program. They’re often at companies looking to hire more developers and will be eager to help a fellow alum. Once you’ve confirmed all these connections, make sure you head over to the LinkedIn company profile for any jobs you like. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll be connected to companies through your network. If you are connected, the next step is to reach out to your connection at the company and ask them about their experience there, also expressing your interest in the role. An internal recommendation can help immensely in the recruitment process.
6. Keep the Foot on the Gas: Persistence and Support are Key
The job search isn’t easy, even if you have a great resume and great interview skills. There’s a lot of legwork involved in finding and applying to positions, followed by interviewing, following up with thank you notes, and pushing through any rejections that come your way. It’s important to stay positive and disciplined during a job search - You’ve spent the time building your skills, now it’s time to get something out of it. Keeping in touch with your coding school and fellow alumni is key for success.
Grace Hopper Academy has an open door policy for students, providing a constant stream of support and guidance during the job search. The developments skills gained at GHA are extremely in-demand at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to submit applications! The hiring team encourages graduates to tweak their resumes, write original cover letters, and continue practicing technical interview challenges all the way up to contract finalizations. They also maintain steady communication with their large alumni network and hiring partner companies, always the first to know about open positions around the city and country.